The Buddhists call it “mindfulness” – those moments when you are fully alive, present and aware. It can happen during big events in your life – a marriage, a baby, a funeral or in smaller ones like walking in the woods, washing the dishes or running on a treadmill.
I’ve been exercising for a long time and lately I’ve been dragging myself to the gym but I’ve been going. So last Friday I decided to get on the treadmill and do some running. Generally I loathe running and will instead opt for any other form of cardio exercise. On I climbed. I was doing intervals five minutes of running, five minutes of walking, five minutes of running – I felt initially awful. Everything hurt I was winded and tired and then as I grew more aware of my breathing, my form and what I was doing I actually started feeling myself opening up and feeling better. With each step opening up and feeling better.
And I realized quite suddenly that I have been depressed – probably seriously clinically depressed. Not for a day, or a week, or the last few months but probably for a decade or more. You Janet have been depressed.
And I started feeling better – I could literally feel my mind and body growing stronger with each step, each step was accompanied by increased clarity.
You. Have. Been. Seriously. Depressed. For. A. Very. Long. Time.
I am not sad because my last relationship ended – you got into these relationships because you were depressed and they ended in part because you were depressed. The house is a mess on so many levels because I am depressed, the weeds in the yard, the _________________ (fill in the proverbial blank) it all a symptom of this great depression you’ve been in.
And the treadmill slowed down and I was walking feeling blissfully aware, suddenly full of energy – clear focused. I pulled my iPod shuffle out of the arm band and scrolled for yeah Melissa Ferrick. (to digress I have not listened to Melissa Ferrick in months because it reminds me of someone) So I scrolled for my favorite Ferrick live album “70 People At 7,000 Feet” – I turned her up, I turned up the speed on the treadmill and I started running. I ran, and ran and walked and ran on that fucking treadmill for over 45 minutes. Got off and got on the new elliptical machine at the YMCA and turned it all the way up to difficult and went faster than I’ve ever gone before for another 20 minutes. I was sweating like a piglet — I felt wonderful I could have kept going all afternoon.
You idjit you’ve been depressed – not only have you been depressed you have been depressed for YEARS, a DECADE perhaps. I’ve functioned at such a high level for a depressed person, it was my “normal” in a sense that I didn’t even realize it. I’m funny, sarcastic, smart and you can weave some really intricate webs of deception for yourself, as well as play a pretty good game for the world when you are clever and can be charming. And yeah you can do it even when clinically depressed (or at least I can).
And I’ve been barely able to move since my cardio marathon but I went back to run again yesterday and I am going out for a pair of new running shoes today. But none of this has anything to do with running. Well the fact that every muscle from the waist down is hideously sore does.
Friday afternoon and evening I came home and felt very serene and wanted to spend the weekend doing very little just sitting with my new awareness and being. I realize that I have really had a major, major breakthrough.
I am no longer depressed and it is like a light has been turned on in my life – like that moment in Marilyn Robinson’s book “Housekeeping” when a light is thrown onto the detritus in their lives. I see it all so clearly all the messes literally, all the dysfunctional choices – what I want and how to move forward. How being depressed drew so many of the wrong people into my life, estranged me from the right ones and so on.
What a fucking long, long, l o n g, L O N G!!! tunnel that was but there was a light at the end and I found it.